Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I spent last weekend enjoying the Huckleberry Railfan Weekend and working with the Great Lakes HOn30 Module Group displaying their layout.

It was a blast! I came after set up and the layout seemed to run well. Tom brought the new Minitrains Fiddletown and Copperopolis 0-4-0 locomotive and it ran reliably and beautifully. The appearance of outside frame and the motion of the counterweights give it a definite narrow gauge appearance. The only downside seemed to be the position of the weight inside the tender which caused it to lean backward.

I took my Linekin Bay module along and ran it as a free-standing layout. After a quick cleaning I was glad to see that trains were running pretty well on it. I ran an MDC/Athearn/Roundhouse 2-6-0 steam conversion on it for 3 hours, then ran the Frary-Hayden FM Morse diesel conversion (FS&K No 26) for several hours. The next day the motive power was again No 26, a re-geared AHM Plymouth diesel in original paint and the new rail bus. All ran well, but the track behind the wharf station needs some work.

Public attendance seemed good and the Huckleberry Railroad hosts a nice event.

One of the highlights was watching Jim run his live steam SRRL No 6 Forney locomotive pulling a Moxie train and SRRL No 19 Prairie locomotive pulling a mixed train.

I'll post pictures in the next few days.

Monday, May 20, 2013

It's been too long

It's been way too long since I've updated this blog so here it is.

My latest purchases are 2 newly released kits from Railway Recollections: the steam launch kit and 24 foot passenger combine with the monitor roof. I have no pictures yet, but you can see them here if you have a facebook account and "friend" Barry McClelland:

Barry has released several incarnations of the 24 foot box car: combine, coach, excursion and baggage cars. There is also a 24 foot caboose with baggage style side doors.

The steam launch is similar to the one once offered by Sheepscot Scale Models but now out of production. Frenchman River ( also has one still available.

There is a distant picture of the completed Sheepscot kit in my post from April 2008:

Barry's kit is more like the Sheepscot kit as the cockpit is curved. The Frenchman kit has a square cockpit. Barry's is a little longer than the Sheepscot kit.

If you can only buy one steam launch kit in HO scale, I recommend Barry's kit as it looks more "classic" and the hull lines are more graceful. The Frenchman River kit has a more utilitarian look. There may be room for both on many layouts.

Check out Mount Blue's expanded offerings in HOn30. He now has a conversion kit for a diesel and SRRL cabooses. These bring the total HOn30 rolling stock kits offered to 19! 6 of them are WW&F kits.

Other projects on the workbench:

Railway Recollections Sandy River Box car A. (Yes, I know it was on the workbench back in 2008)
Aru Models Porter 0-4-0 kit No. 72
Mt Blue SRRL Boxcar No.s 87-99
scratch-built China Station
China module scenery

Here's an old picture of some of my locomotives.
From left to right are the AHM Baldwin saddle tank shell on a Fleischmann 0-4-0 mechanism, an MDC/Athearn 2-6-0 with a laser cut wood cab (Small Scale Logistics out of production) and the ubiquitous Frary & Hayden Trix FM switcher conversion with the AHM Plymouth cab.

Friday, November 18, 2011

RS Laser Kits Re-Releases Steven's Creek Kits

In case you had not heard, RS Laser Kits ( is re-releasing the Steven's Creek HO scale Maine narrow gauge building and rolling stock kits. These are very nice, prototypically accurate laser-cut kits. The potato house and Randolph depot are already listed for sale on the HO structures page.

Here's also a sneak peak at an HOn30 passenger car kit in development:

If you're interested in this kit drop them an email ( to let them know.

Train Troll has released an HO scale WW&F crossing sign kit. This is not yet posted on their website, but it is available if you email them. I will post pictures in the next few days.

Al sent me this link to pictures of his HOn30 layout, the Dixie Creek Central:

Enjoy the scenery and HOn30 rolling stock.

More pictures to come of HOn30 and Maine 2 Foot Live Steam at the Huckleberry Railroad Days.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Steve Skodzinsky's Monson Village Module

Steve Skodzinsky has graciously allowed me to post pictures he took of his Monson Village module currently being built.

Here are some of Steve's remarks about it:

"The module is 16 inches wide by 96" long. When I was in the planning stages I soon realized that if I was going to use #6 switches, it pretty much follows that the module will be about 8 feet long to accommodate everything. If you used #4 switches you could probably shorten it to 72 to 80 inches or so. In any case, using #6 switches has allowed for very smooth trouble free operation and nice shallow approaches. They can handle just about anything you might ever want to run on a 2 foot empire. "

"I opted for code 55 rail and I purchased #6 switches from LITco. On the advice of Gary Kohler, all but one of the switches are conventional. The switch that leads into the engine house is the one that is the stub. As I have found, it is more work to setup the stub switch. It demands accuracy in placement more than anything. All of the switches are controlled with Blue-Point machines, these have turned out to be very reliable and work great. All of my track is hand laid, I used PC ties about every 6 inches or so to establish gauge and sugarpine and birch-plywood wood ties were used in between. I brush painted all of the ties with Tamiya XF-57 buff paint to approximate the color of the cedar ties that the 2 footers used."

Steve has done a nice weathering job onthe Stevens Creek wood shed.

This will turn out to be a nice module and a good portrayal of the Monson Railroad's station and facilities in Monson, Maine in the early 2oth century. I look forward to seeing the progress and will post pictures here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New Source for HOn30 Kits?

Some of you may know about, an internet site that will print 3D models from 3D image file uploaded to the website. The Shapeways company provides the website, the order taking, payment collection and the printing services, but individuals upload their own designs to the website and offer them for sales in exchange for a "royalty" for each item sold.

I have ordered 2 locomotive kits and expect them tomorrow. I'll evaluate and post pics of the kits once I get them. I'll also evaluate the service.

I would recommend checking out Teebee's shop. Tom has several HOn30 kits there. Here's the url:[search][shop_name_search]=Tebee%20Models

I have no financial connection to Shapeways or Tom. I mention this because it could hold some promise for HOn30 modelers.

Railbus Update

First of all my apologies for not posting for several months. I am back and plan to post once a month.

Here's a current photo of the Aru Models railbus. Still on the to do list:
add another coat of green, paint handles brass , add conductor and passengers, add decals and weather it lightly.

Also on the work bench are components for a powered box car. The chassis is Tomix/Tomeytec model KD-25. It is an N scale street car chassis. It has 2 advantages: it is easy to shorten or extend the length and it has several sets of truck sideframes options. The white strips on the chassis are reinforcements added to extend the wheel base to match the HOn30 Weidner resin box car body in the background. The sound decoder is a Soundtraxx DSD-101LC light steam decoder.

This third picture shows a stock chassis and all three extension strips added to lengthen the chassis. The stock chassis really is too short for the box car though in appears to be the right length in this picture. The perspective is distorting this a little.

Also note the brass strips added to lengthen the sliver pickup strips for the trucks.

This chassis only has one power truck so it won't be a great puller but it does pickup on all eight wheels.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

HOn30 Trucks

On the HOn30 Yahoo group there has been some discussion about HOn30 trucks and I thought a side-by-side photo comparison might help modelers decide which one to choose. The point is that there are many more options than the 5 I show here. Double-click the photo to see a larger version.

From left to right are Grandt HOn30 truck with Northwest Short Line metal wheels, Blackstone HOn3 truck with wheels re-gauged, Model Railroad General Store Gilpin Hon30 truck with NWSL wheels, Microtrains N scale arch bar truck with Intermountain 36" (in N scale) wheels (#IRC60051) and Microtrains N scale arch bar truck with stock wheels.

Here is my personal evaluation and ranking according to my own preferences. You might have other priorities and have every right to disagree with me. I understand that trucks that look good but do not run well are frustrating. Please also understand that difficulties I had with assembly reflect more on my own skill that the quality of the product. Your mileage may vary.

Grandt truck (#1 if successfully tuned) pros
-Prototypically correct details for Maine 2 footers
-Allows cars to sit lower
Grandt truck cons
-Requires tuning (clean up/polishing of axle ends; clean up of flash; sometimes addition of keep on bottom of journal Box to keep wheels from dropping out. See tuning article in Maine 2 Foot Quarterly.)
-Older version with plastic wheels require replacing wheels

Blackstone pros (#2 if smaller wheels could be found)
-Runs flawlessly
-Has brake beams
-Has metal wheels
-Ready to Run.
Blackstone cons
-Wheels are too large, cars would sit too high for Maine 2 foot look
-Details do not match Maine 2 foot prototype

Model RR General Store pros (#4 Chivers not shown here are #3)
-Similar to Maine 2 foot prototype
Model RR General Store cons
-Assembly required, easy to break side frames during assembly
-Wheels not included
-Details not as crisp as Grandt or Blackstone

MT arch bars with Intermountain wheels (#5 good for shorter/smaller free-lanced cars) pros
-Run flawlessly
-Sit higher with IM wheels
- Ready to Run
MT arch bar IM wheels cons
-A bit short and small

Other options
-Athearn MDC N scale arch bar trucks (unsure of current availability)
-David Hoffman brass HOn30 trucks (order by mail at 8682 US Highway 61
North, Woodville, MS 39669-3502
-Precision Scale HOn3 trucks re-gauged (available from Walthers)

Thank you to Dave Miecznikowski for the Blackstone truck idea and to Woodie Greene for the Precision Scale truck idea.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New Railway Recollections Caboose Kit

Barry at Railway Recollections has a new HOn30 16 foot off center cupola caboose kit that is ready to ship. It is $29.00 plus $6.50 shipping and handling.
I don't have the kit but I can recommend Barry's kits in general. His kits have no bubbles and sharp castings. They are well designed and straight-forward to build.

To order contact Barry at

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

HOn30 Pictures

In case you had not seen this elsewhere here's a link to Peter Bartlett's pictures of his HOn30 motive power, rolling stock and layout. Peter's Cray Valley RR was featured in the August 2004 issue of Model Railroader. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Climax Kit

I have not done much on the Climax kit. I was unsure of weather to add a DCC decoder and how to paint it. I will wait to add the decoder because I need a smaller one like the TCS Z4.

I did not want to paint it with a lot of raw wood because my railroad would have painted it more like a common carrier road engine. But I had not seen many paint jobs like that on a class A Climax. My friend, Phil Gliebe, built a Climax that won first place in the steam kit class at the NMRA national convention and was mentioned in the NMRA magazine in Sept. His paint job is exactly what the FS&K would have used and removed that obstacle.

I still have other projects to finish, but this one will come to the top of list this winter and I will post pictures as it proceeds.

What's on the Workbench

I am currently working on 2 projects:

The ARU railbus: I have it painted, but not yet decaled or weathered. I am working on painting the driver and passengers, following an article by Sam Swanson (Model Railroader Dec 2005). I will post photos soon.

Track modifications on the Linekin Bay Module: To improve running I have removed the AHM dual gauge crossing and flattened it. The HOn30 leg always had a hump so that the track could reach the height of the standard gauge and this was causing problems for smaller locomotives. The crossing is back in place but needs ballast. At the same time I removed all the track to the right of the crossing all the way to the swing bridge because there were rough spots and widening of the gauge at the swing bridge. I have replaced the bridge track and am weathering new strip wood decking for it prior to securing it back onto the module.


I am sorry to leave this blog so long without an update. I am still here and modeling in HOn30.

If you went to the last National Narrow Gauge Convention you could have bought one of Mount Blue's new laser-cut HOn30 Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington box cars kits. This builds into car # 309 which survives still at the WW&F museum. This is very exciting for those of us (myself included) who are WW&F fans. They are available on-line also at

I have one of Mt Blues SRRL box cars under construction (see photos in a previous post) and can highly recommend them. The 309 kit will have details included.

Railway Recollections is releasing a 42 foot steam launch on HO scale that will be perfect for harbor scenes. It looks similar to the out-of production steam launch that Sheepscot Scale models released over 10 years ago, but being cast in high-quality resin will be of better quality. I have seen pre-production photos of the engine detail and it is superb. The packaging is being completed now so I expect it will be released in the next few months. You can buy direct via email: or ask about it at Train and Trooper: This is a different kit from their 38 foot launch/tour boat.

Monday, April 5, 2010

New HOn30 Climax Kit

There's a new HOn30 Climax kit on the market:
While I have not seen this kit in person, it looks like a nice kit to build. It requires the LifeLike SW1500 chassis and possibly some detail parts. This is a good way to make your version unique.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

2010 Midwest Narrow Gauge Show

The Midwest Narrow Gauge is now behind us and I am sorry to say that I did not take any pictures. It was a good show and we had fun. The venue changed so all the micro and modular layouts(HOn3, Sn2, On30 and Hon30) were in 1 room. I got more exposure to the others since I could see them from the HOn30 layout.

I picked up 2 of Mt Blue's new HOn30 SRRL laser-cut box car kits. These are different from the #87-94/96-99 series cars. I'll add photos of the kits in the next few days. These will be fun to build and product highly detailed models.

Big City Hobbies has re-released the Plymouth AHM Minitrains set with a new mechanism:
The price seems a bit steep at $119.98. I do not know anyone who has purchased this yet and so don't know the quality of the mechanism.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

NMRA Regional Meet Oct-09

Here's a picture of a bunch of HOn30 locomotives on the Linekin Bay module at the NMRA regional meet in Indianapolis last October. You might recognize some of them. From left to right they are: an Egger Bahn construction locomotive; Pete M's kit-bashed diesel based on the Atlas V-1000 chassis and hood with a cab fashioned from Grandt GE 23 tonner parts; AHM Plymouth with the NSWL re-gear kit (I have never seen one for sale that did not need new gears); a kit-bashed diesel as Bob Hayden and Dave Frary did in the '70s based on the Mini-Trix Fairbanks Morse diesel with a cab from the Funaro & Camerlengo Plymouth diesel flat car load ; a Consolidation based on the MDC (now Athearn) 2-6-0 with a laser-cut cab from Small Scale Logistics (now out of business) and new domes, head light, stack, number plate and builders plates.
At left is Jim F.'s completed version of Railway Recollection's Sandy River box car 1 kit. It sits on Micro-trains N scale archbar trucks and they sure do run nicely. The weathering job really adds to the model.
I seem to recall from Jones', Crittenden's or Moody's books that box car A was renumbered as box car 1. If so it was obviously rebuilt without the exterior sheathing and the doors were mounted inside.
Here's Phil G.'s harbor module showing rolling stock in the yard. The Forney is a nicely-done Chivers kit. The caboose is a SRRL Funaro & Camerlengo resin kit. The other rolling stock is a mixture of Chivers and Funaro & Camerlengo kits. All of the rolling stock was built by Phil. This module has a lot to offer and this is only one end of it.

More Projects

At left is the Railway Recollections Sandy River/Billerica & Bedford box car A kit. I need to finish the decals, add some crates to the interior, add end railings, couplers and weather it. This is a very nice, easy-to-assemble kit with many possibilities. It can be built as B&B box car A; Sandy River box car A without windows in the side doors; or Sandy River box car A with windows in the side doors. I added the interior sheathing on the wall and the interior panels on the far side door.
This next kit is Mount Blue's new HOn30 offering, a laser-cut Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes 28 foot box car kit. I posted pictures of this in November. Now I've finally have some progress to show. This kit can be built into box cars numbers 87-94 and 96-99. Several were for sale at the last Springfield, Massachusetts train show and they were all sold out. This is an excellent kit. The parts fit together well and some are adhesive-backed so the builder just peels the paper off the back and sticks it to the model. While the manufacturer suggests details to use, none are included so that the builder can use details to his liking. I already had half of the details needed to build this and only had to order grab irons and queen posts. I could have bent my own grabs, but past experience has taught me that buying preformed grabs saves me wasted wire, time and frustration. Since the holes for grabs and nbw castings are predrilled (laser-cut?) at lot of drilling(and time) is eliminated. I also like the laser-cut roof panels that simulate the tin panels used on Maine two-foot box cars. I recommend this kit for the joy of assembly and pleasure the completed model will bring as you watch it on your pike.

And I do occasionally finish projects and I promise to post them when I do. I will never promise to work on only one project until it is finished. This is a hobby and I do as I please. In the immortal words of Ben & Jerry: "If it's not fun why do it?"

New Railbus

At left is my latest distraction from the projects I should be working on. This is a brass etched rail bus from Aru Models in Japan. It is a freelanced version of SRRL No 3 that fits on a Kato No 11-107 shorty bogie chassis in N scale. Here I've primed it and added tissue to the roof. Does include white metal head light castings which are not shown here, but will be added after painting the grill.

This is an excellent kit for the modeler who wants to learn how to solder an etched-brass kit because of the ingenious tab and slot design of the parts. All parts are held together by tabs and slots so that the modeler can solder the pieces with without finding a way to clamp them. I filed and sanded the tabs and slots off once the soldering was done. There are also no curves in the kit that can be difficult for a beginner to form properly. Thsi kit can also be assembled with ACC. The instructions are in Japanese, but the pictures are sufficient for a clear understanding of the assembly process.
This kit is available from Mr Yoshiya Kobayashi. His website is: I will post pictures as the build progresses.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Old Meet Photos

Here's some photos from the Midwest Narrow Gauge Meet in Salem, OH in 2002 or earlier. First is Bill's HOn30 quarry layout with standard gauge tracks in the foreground. Check out the AHM narrow gauge engine house in the right foreground. Who did have one of those for their HOn30/009 layout in the 1970's. I still have mine. I haven't seen this module of Bill's lately. He is into On30 and the ET&WNC.

This 6 foot long module was built by Craig S. who is also no longer bringing it to shows. It included a roundhouse with complete interior details and figures, a cemetery scene complete with a horse-drawn hearse, seals on the rocks and a light house. It offers a lot of scenery and switching opportunities.

This mill module is Jeff's and has been coming to meets for years. It is loosely based on the American Woolen Mills near Winslow, Maine that were served by the 2 foot gauge Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington railroad. He kit-bashed all the windows, very impressive.

Old Photo of Motive Power

Here's an old photo from 2002 taken on my film camera. The motive power from left to right are: Chivers small Forney on a Bachmann 0-4-0 chassis, AHM Plymouth diesel with NWSL regear kit, kit-bashed rail bus (Jordan school bus and Bachmann trolley chassis as described in the Maine 2 Foot Quarterly) and a Brick Price Hawaiian 0-4-0 locomotive on a Bachmann 0-4-0 shifter chassis. The scenery is not Maine 2-foot prototypical, but what I have on hand at the time.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Following this Blog

I've added the Following gadget to the upper left side of the page to make it easier to follow this blog. By clicking on the Follow button you can add this blog to your Google Friend Connect reader list and see if it has been updated recently. If you have a Blogger account this also works with that account. This allows you to go to 1 site to check all the blogs you're following for updates instead of checking each one individually. I hope this is helpful.